The Statute of Winchester

The Statute of Winchester, 1285

  • Purpose was ‘to abate the power of felons’;

  • duty of everyone to maintain the King’s Peace, and it was open to any citizen to arrest an offender;

  • the unpaid, part-time constable had a special duty assisted by the watchman;

  • hue and cry was to be raised to apprehend offenders;

  • penalties were imposed against those who did not comply with the compulsory pursuit of criminals;

  • everyone was required to keep arms for preserving peace and apprehending criminals;

  • town gates were closed between sunset and sunrise and strangers not allowed to enter;

  • the constable had a duty to present the offender at the court leet.

Derived from Ascoli (1979) and Critchley (1978)